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article imageOp-Ed: Fukushima disaster — Ignorance is bliss despite the dangers

By Karen Graham     Nov 17, 2014 in Environment
Little is reported in the media about the clean up after the Fukushima Power Plant disaster. After three years of cover-ups and misleading information, released to quell public fears, there is still reason to be wary. The danger is still very real.
The Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant disaster in 2011 is still impacting lives today. Over 120,000 people from the area are living in a nuclear limbo, according to the guardian. Once close-knit families are now forced to live apart in temporary housing complexes, many of the homes hastily thrown up in an effort to get people out of radiation "hot-spots."
Japan's population has been inundated with half-truths and sometimes, outright lies, concerning the progress being made in the clean-up efforts in Fukushima. For the thousands of workers tasked with the laborious details of doing the actual work, just knowing their efforts are inadequate must be mind-numbing.
Fukushima Daiichi’s manager, Akira Ono is the man in charge of the clean up efforts, and he admitted to the Guardian that there is little cause for optimism. No matter what the workers do, there is still a huge problem with contaminated water. Over 400 tons of groundwater flow every day from the hills outside the plant and into the basements where the three stricken reactors are located.
There, the water mixes with the coolant water being pumped in to keep the melted fuel from overheating and causing another nuclear accident. TEPCO says "most of the water" is pumped out into holding tanks, but ever-increasing amounts end up seeping into maintenance trenches, and then into the ocean. This has to be depressing for Ono and the men and women walking into the facility every day.
While Americans have been sitting back and ignoring the ongoing disaster that is Fukushima, other countries have taken notice. Germany and Italy are looking at the viability of continuing to depend on nuclear power, and are opting instead for other more eco-friendly sources. And surprisingly, the news media in other countries is also paying attention to what has been going on at the Fukushima power plant.
Arnold Gunderson, a former high-level nuclear industry executive, was cited in an article written in Al-Jazeera English, entitled "Fukushima: It's much worse than you think," in June, 2011. In the story, Gunderson is quoted as saying, the Fukushima disaster was "the biggest industrial catastrophe in the history of mankind. Twenty nuclear cores have been exposed at Fukushima." Gunderson also points out that the site's many spent-fuel pools give Fukushima 20 times the radiation release potential of Chernobyl.
If people on the North American coast think they are safe from the effects of radiation from the Fukushima disaster, not only are they dreaming, but they are going to be in for a rude awakening. Yes, there were a few stories telling us the radiation levels reaching our west coast were "tiny amounts," But how many additional infants are going to die, and how many more people, children and adults are going to end up with unexplained cancers before someone wakes up to what is happening?
And the American public needs to wake up right now. We have nuclear disasters just waiting to happen in our own back yard. From the Diable Canyon power plant in California, to the Cooper Nuclear Station near Brownville, Nebraska that was almost inundated with floodwaters in June, 2011, the list is getting longer and longer. The Nuclear Regulatory Committee has been forced to ease up on some regulations or just ignore them when it comes to helping power plants in the U.S. to meet what officials call "unnecessarily conservative" standards. Yes, ignorance is bliss. That is scary, folks,
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of DigitalJournal.com
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